Am I awkward? – Test Your Social Awkwardness

“I find it hard to talk to people. The things that I say aren’t really things people say. How do I know if I’m awkward?”

In the quiz below, you’ll learn if you are socially awkward and get several ideas for how to stop being awkward.

Many people worry about whether they come across as socially awkward, particularly in conversations with people they don’t know well. Our mistakes feel like they are occurring under a spotlight, an effect so strong that psychologists refer to this as the Spotlight Effect[1].

It can be hard to know whether you appear awkward to others, especially if you have Aspergers or social anxiety. To help with this, in this test we are going to look at objective observations that you can use as a guide as to whether you may be socially awkward, and ways to deal with this if you are.

It’s important to remember that socially awkward behavior isn’t necessarily a personality trait.

I’ve felt socially awkward in more situations than I can count. The methods here are about learning new social skills, rather than having to change who you are.

  • Part 1: Inner monologue
  • Part 2: Body language
  • Part 3: Conversational topics and content
  • Part 4: Conversations with groups

Awkwardness Quiz

Part 1: Inner monologue

Our inner monologue is the series of thoughts and beliefs about ourselves and the world that we tell ourselves constantly. If you believe yourself to be socially awkward, your inner monologue may be an inner critic, telling you things that are objectively untrue or that are unhelpful.
Being alert to what we tell ourselves is a fundamental part of cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT)[2] and is one way in which you can influence how you feel about social situations.

Do you worry about how you are going to be received in a social setting?

Do you spend more time thinking about what the other person thinks about you than you do about what they’re saying?

Do you analyze the conversation for signs of dislike afterward?

Part 2: Body language

Although science regarding the role of body language is complicated,7 we know that a large proportion of our communication is through our body language. Understanding the subtle cues contained within how we stand or move can help you to be aware of how others are feeling and also of what you may be ‘saying’ to others.

Do you find that people move closer/further away from you during a conversation?

Do you find yourself looking at the floor or away from the person you are talking to?

Do other people avoid making eye contact with you?

Do you turn your body away from the person you are talking to, or cover your body with your arms?

Can you feel your muscles are tense during conversations, especially around your face?

Part 3: Conversational topics and content

Everyone says the wrong thing from time to time. In most cases, it is a single slip-up and easily corrected with a candid apology. If you notice a pattern of awkward moments during conversations, it may be worth thinking about your choice of language or topics of conversation.

Do you find yourself having to explain jokes you have made?

Do you find yourself having to explain references (pop culture, science or literature, for example) you have made?

Do you find yourself wishing that you hadn’t used particular words or phrases after you have said them?

Do people change the topic of conversation or leave long silences after you have spoken?

Do you go back to a previous topic of conversation because you hadn’t found a space to make your comments before the conversation moved on?

Do you struggle to think of something to say, especially during a silence?

Part 4: Conversations with groups

Group social interactions are different from conversations with just one other person. You need to divide your attention between the person who is currently speaking and the rest of the group.

If you find conversations with groups difficult, it can be helpful to watch conversations without pressuring yourself to speak. You can try to predict who is going to speak next and how quickly they will do so. Once you can notice the conversational patterns, you can challenge yourself to join in.

Do you feel inhibited from sharing your thoughts with a group?

Do you often start speaking at the same time as others?

Are you not able to find space in the conversation to say things that you have thought of?

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Natalie Watkins writes about socializing for SocialPro. She holds a B.A. in Experimental Psychology from the University of Oxford, an M.S.c. in Cognitive and Clinical Neuroscience from the University of London, and is currently in her final year of an MSc in Integrative Counselling at the University of Northampton.

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7 thoughts on “Am I awkward? – Test Your Social Awkwardness”

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  1. My biggest problem with speaking to people is that I tend to use multi-syllabic words and in the correct context. I have tried to dumb down, but I soon revert to immense words. I am not trying to be arrogant, it is just the way I speak. Contemporaries do not like me using contemporary in describing those around me, but I do. I would like to say possibly like-minded people, but soon revert to contemporary.
    My wife and I speak to each other in this type of lingo and also add German, Swedish, Russian, French and Dutch words/phrases as well (I speak those languages). My wife often uses French, German, Polish, Spanish and Cantonese as she speaks those languages. We do not mean to speak to others this way, but invariably we do.

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  2. I would have filled in this questionnaire, but being a sad looser with no job, no friends, no partner and no kids, I have no one to have conversations with, so most answers would have to be “Not Applicable”.

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